Sun. Jul 21st, 2024


Young fan runs onto pitch for selfie with Cristiano Ronaldo at Euro 2024

A dramatic added-time goal from Italy’s Mattia Zaccagni snatched a 1-1 draw with Croatia which was enough to earn them a place in the last 16 of Euro 2024 and likely sends Croatia home.

After a goalless first half, Croatia’s Luka Modric had a penalty saved in the 54th minute but just 60 seconds later he smashed home a rebound after Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off another fine save from Ante Budimir.

The goal brought defending champions Italy to life, and they pressed for the equaliser which would take them through and, with time running out, Zaccagni curled home a shot from distance to break Croatian hearts.

It meant Italy finish as Group B runners-up and will face Switzerland in the last 16, while Croatia are third on two points and must wait to see if they will progress as one of the best four third-placed finishers, although it is now unlikely.

Relive all the drama below:

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Italy escape after serving up tactical lesson and a reminder – to Euro 2024 hopefuls and themselves

And so Italy became the first team to go where no other nation among the favourites at Euro 2024 have bothered, or dared, or thought worthwhile, so far.

No, not to go all-out-attack and wipe the floor with an opponent – Germany did that on the opening night. Not to drop a big name, either, or to leave out a leading goalscorer.

Instead, Luciano Spalletti ensured the Azzurri were the first of the big guns to attempt to show their tactical proficiency in more than one distinct shape, altering their set-up from a back four and wide forwards in the opening two fixtures to line up 3-5-2 against Croatia in their decisive Group B encounter.

Against Spain in particular, their wide players had failed to have any kind of impact and Federico Chiesa was one of those to pay the price, making way as Spalletti’s alterations saw a roving two-man strikeforce come into play, Gianluca Scamacca also pulled into bench duty, key man from the qualifying campaign Giacomo Raspadori replacing him and Matteo Darmian starting as a third central defender.

It lasted an hour, before panic mode set in.

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:35

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What do Italy, Croatia and Albania need? Euro 2024 group permutations and third-place standings explained

Spain: After beating Italy 1-0, Spain were already through as group winners. Spain finished with maximum points after beating Albania and will play one of the four best third-placed teams in Cologne on Sunday 30 June at 8pm.

Italy: On a dramatic night in Leipzig, the holders denied Croatia with a last-minute equaliser to advance to the last-16. They will face Switzerland.

Croatia: Luka Modric and company looked to be doing it again, until Mattia Zaccagni’s last-gasp goal knocked them out. Croatia needed to win but went from being in the last-16 to going home. Two points is unlikely to be enough to go through in third, but it may be possible if results in other groups go their way.

Albania: Albania had to beat Spain to have any chance of going through and are out following a 1-0 defeat.

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:55

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Italy pass their test of nerve but Croatia left to rue late goals – and subbing Luka Modric

Instead, almost certainly, Croatia will be cast out of Euro 2024. The team who can excel over 120 minutes and penalties missed a penalty and went out to a 98th-minute goal. When it was shaping up as the night of an all-time great, in Luka Modric, he was instead upstaged by a newcomer to such occasions.

When Mattia Zaccagni came off the bench, the 29-year-old forward had never scored for Italy. When he did, it was magnificent, the Lazio winger curling a shot around Dominik Livakovic.

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:50

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Young fan evades stewards after invading the pitch during Albania vs Spain

Stewards were deployed to the pitch during Albania vs Spain after a young fan bypassed security and started running, briefly halting the tie.

The youngster took to the turf in Dusseldorf on the 90th minute of the Euro 2024 group-stage clash.

He turned to the Albania bench after being chased by several brightly coloured security detail, before being apprehended and escorted off.

The game finished 1-0 to the outside favourites, despite 10 changes being made from Spain’s previous fixture.

Spain advanced to the knockout stages after finishing top of the group.

Young fan evades stewards after invading the pitch during Albania vs Spain

Stewards were deployed to the pitch during Albania vs Spain after a young fan bypassed security and started running, briefly halting the tie. The youngster took to the turf in Dusseldorf on the 90th minute of the Euro 2024 group-stage clash. He turned to the Albania bench after being chased by several brightly coloured security detail, before being apprehended and escorted off. The game finished 1-0 to the outside favourites, despite 10 changes being made from Spain’s previous fixture. Spain advanced to the knockout stages after finishing top of the group.

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:45

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How Albania left a unique mark on Euro 2024, even with an early exit

It is a fair walk from Dusseldorf Hauptbahnhof to the Merkur Spiel-Arena. It clocks in at around 90 minutes, typically, although it feels much longer in 27 degrees of heat, with the spring sun glancing off the surface of the Rhine and slow-roasting your cheeks. Still, the long, straight, riverside route is scenic, and on Monday evening the blue of the Rhine was balanced out by the streams of red on its bank, as swathes of Albanians and Spaniards made their final pre-game trek of the group stage.

For the Albanians, it would be their last at Euro 2024, full stop. Not that they saw that as an inevitability before kick-off.

They outnumbered the Spanish supporters convincingly on this particular path, and they were in jubilant voices and seemingly confident spirits. Near the start of the route, at a junction by Oberkasseler bridge, the fans who had opted against walking to the stadium were either driving or hanging out of cars – the latter group sang and waved flags; the former blared their horns, having tied the national crest to their bonnets.

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:40

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Spain’s second XI prove they’re better than most first teams at Euro 2024 but one key flaw remains

If this was very much the night’s second match, those watching Italy-Croatia may have missed the chance to see the fifth-best team a Euro 2024. That just happens to be Spain football’s second team, who kept playing with a fluidity beyond virtually everyone else at the tournament.

They had many of the same qualities as the first team, if also the same flaws in the finishing. That didn’t matter here, as they beat Albania football 1-0 to make it a perfect three wins from three in the group stage. They will now surely look to become the first European champions to win all their games, something no one has yet done, even in the 16-team era. That is what Spain should be aiming for.

This isn’t to diminish Albania, who did eventually up it at the end as they knew they had a chance to stay in this competition but they couldn’t get close enough. They sank to their knees in disappointment at the end, but there was probably considerable exhaustion from chasing passes in that too.

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:25

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FT: Croatia 1-1 Italy – Italy are through to the last 16!

Here’s that Zaccagni goal in real time. What a superb finish!

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:20

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Next games

So Spain and Italy advance from Group B for certain. Croatia face a nervous wait to see if they’ll be in the next round.

Italy will face Switzerland in Berlin on Saturday, 29 June at 5pm BST.

Spain do not yet know their opponents, but they know they will be playing on 30 June at 8pm BST in Cologne. They will play the third-placed team from one of Group A, D, E or F.

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:15

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Group B standings

So, this is how Group B looks after the final round of games.

1 (Q) – Spain – 9 points, GD +5

2 (Q) – Italy – 4 points, GD +1

3 – Croatia – 2 points, GD -3

4 – Albania – 0 points, GD -2

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:10

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FULL-TIME! Croatia 1-1 Italy

Unbelievable emotion at the end there. The difference between the Italian and Croatian players.

(Getty Images for FIGC)
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Chris Wilson24 June 2024 22:02




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#Croatia #Italy #LIVE #Result #reaction #Azzurri #snatch #lastgasp #equaliser #reach #Euro #knockouts #Spain #Albania #latest

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